“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” – Rev. 7:9
This picture of the heavenly scene is remarkable. The terms “every nation”, “all tribes”, “[all] peoples”, “[all] languages” is as exhaustive a way to put it: heaven is ethnically diverse. Every geographic region, every language, every skin color imaginable gathered around the throne of Jesus Christ.
This scene helps us understand God’s disdain for racial and ethnic intolerance and prejudice. The treatment people throughout our world receive based on skin color and/or ethnic background debases the value Jesus places on racial and ethnic diversity. He died to establish a multi-ethnic community of people. To oppose this, directly or indirectly, is “anti-heaven.”
We get a number of other glimpses into God’s perspective on multi-ethnic communities, but one in particular I find interesting is recorded in Numbers 12. Look at it…
“Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman” (Num. 12:1).
Moses is an ethnic and racial Israelite. He married Zipporah a Black Cushite woman from the Cushite civilization south of Egypt. The Moses/Zipporah marriage is an interracial marriage and Miriam and Aaron don’t like it one bit. God’s response?
“The anger of the Lord burned against them and he left them” (Num. 12:9).
Is that all? Nope.
“When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous…” (Num. 12:10).
God’s anger burned against Aaron and Miriam and he struck Miriam with leprosy because of their opposition to Moses’ interracial marriage. The takeaway is pretty straightforward.
In seminary, I experienced the most racially and ethnically diverse community of people I have ever lived among. At the lunch table one day, there was a man from Singapore, a black man from Sierra Leone, West Africa, a black man from downtown Detroit, a white woman from Australia, and me, a white man from Wisconsin. Pretty much the only thing we all had in common was our love for Jesus. It was at that moment I realized I had more in common with them than I had in common with my fellow white Wisconsinite neighbor who was far from Jesus.